The Sea & His Sons
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The Sea & His Sons
by Julie Ela Grace
When the earth was young and time had not been written, there was only Land and Sea. The infant sea lapped against the land and kissed it mistily. It caressed the shores and offered it geography, but the land gave nothing to the sea. In its misery, the sea cried out to the one who had created all things and said, “Creator! I am lonely. When I speak to the land, she says nothing at all. I send white waters and she only washes back sand. I raise high above, tidal and brave, and I see nothing but sparse trees and rock. Please Creator, make the land speak to me.”
The Creator of Earth was silent and pondered the sea’s request. When the Creator finally spoke, a question was asked: “Dear Sea, are you simply lonely or do you wish to make the land your companion?”
The sea responded with such force that waters swelled and pooled with a great white rush. “I wish the land to be my companion! We have been here together always. She is all I know. She is my partner in this place.”
The Creator thought for many moments and instead offered the sea four sons. The sea, so overjoyed by new companionship, sent water rumbling under the land. It rushed and turned with such strength that rifts formed in the land and seawater burst through the rock and sand. Lakes and rivers were born on the momentous day that the sea’s sons came to him. The rivers pulsed and salty tides discovered the great structure of the land’s plates. The water raced to tell the father sea of the wonder in the continents.
The sea joyfully welcomed his four sons to Earth, but the sons, infant and new, were afraid of the sea as the Creator had placed each of them onto the water’s great back. The sea comforted his sons and cradled them and told them not to be afraid. He soothed them with the sounds of waves and taught them to float upon the water. The sea said to his sons, “My sons, lie back. I will hold you.” The reluctant children tipped into their father and found that they did not sink. The sons were pleased and cooed with delight.
As the sea’s sons began to grow, he fed them fish and crab. From their lips they licked the water’s salt and knew to love the taste of the ocean. Soon the sons learned to dive with dolphins and they rode the backs of whales. The creatures of the sea guarded the sons as their own and taught them to breathe as fishes do.
After twenty years of suckling from the waters, the Creator appeared before the sons and father. He said, “Sea, have you spoken to the land?”
The sea, surprised, said, “No, I have not spoken to her since you gave me my sons. They are my companions now.”
The Creator was silent and after a great pause, the Creator said, “Sea, your sons are your sons. You wished for Land to be your companion as she has been with you since the beginning. You beseeched my help and you have failed to help her, the land, to find her voice.”
“But you gave me sons!” cried the sea. “You gave her no voice, no movement. The rivers and tides caress her and she still offers nothing. Without my sons, there would be no rivers or lakes. It was their gift to her and she replied without a sound.”
“Their gift to her is still to come,” said the Creator. He called to the sea’s children and said, “You must come with me now.” The eldest son of the sea swam forward and told the Creator he would not leave his father the sea.
The Creator called back to him, “I have created your father the sea and I too have given you life. Do not refuse me.” Suddenly a great wind swept across the sea and the children began to dive toward the seabed, searching for their father’s comforting arms. The sea, grasping for his sons, was held back by the mighty wind. A great tunnel swelled and burst in his waters and he began to weep as he heard his children calling to him. They begged their father to stop the wind as it carried them away. They grabbed for rocks and coral, algae and weeds. The sea’s weeping caused great raindrops to fall as the sons passed above the sands of the land.
The sea’s fourth and youngest son was carried to the great tops of giant trees. He folded himself into the branches and he called for his brothers to grab hold of the massive trunks, to take root in the thick foliage, but his brothers rushed past him—still caught in the wind.
The third brother, with a surge of strength, broke from the wind and dove to the ground. He found himself covered in the dust of a dying lakebed. He was far from his brothers.
The second brother saw a vine from a great tree and he grabbed hold of it. He held to the vine for many hours as the wind rushed around him. When the wind finally fell away, he too was lost from his brothers.
The eldest brother never reached the trees or the vine and he could not break from the wind. He and all his brothers were separated. Each wept the giant tears of their father and rainstorms flooded the lands.
When the oldest brother finally fell upon the land, he called to the Creator again. From the desolate ground, he shouted with anguish: “Why have you forsaken me? Why have you forsaken my father and my brothers?” In the barren place, he continued to weep and he became angry at the Creator for the rupture of his family.
In his anger the sea’s oldest son grew bitter and cold. As he wept, his tears turned to ice and he left frozen trails along the land he paced. He moved about the north countries and searched for water that would lead him to the sea. One morning he found a river, but the river was covered in ice; his coldness and anger had frozen all the land and water. He began to weep as he saw what he his anger had caused. He cried for the Creator to forgive him. The Creator heard his pleas and a hush befell the land. The first snow fell in large flakes upon the head of the sea’s first son. The son laughed as he saw the cascade of white petals fall from the sky. His tears stopped and he looked down again to the frozen river where he saw a trout moving slowly below the sheet of ice. He called to the trout in the language of waters and said, “Dear Trout, have you seen my father the sea?”
The trout began to swish his great tail with joy and said, “You are Winter, the sea’s eldest son!” Winter cried out, “Yes! I am Winter!”
The trout said, “I must find your father and tell him that you are alive!”
The trout began to wiggle his fins rapidly and his silver body slipped into the current of the water. Winter called out to him again and asked, “How is my father, dear Trout? Do you know of my brothers?”
The trout stilled—the swish of his tail slowed. “Your father has been stricken with grief since the Creator placed you with the land. He has heard no news of you nor your brothers as the lakes and rivers have been frozen for many months. He and the land do not speak the same language and she cannot tell him where you are.” Winter fell into a great heap upon the fresh snow. He cried steadily as it was he who had frozen the land and lakes with his anger and tears. The trout looked to Winter and said, “Dear Winter, I will find your brothers. Do not move from this place. I will tell them where you are and I will tell your father that you are alive.”
Winter cried, “But dear Trout, how will you navigate the frozen waterways? I have hampered your route with my cold tears.” The trout responded coolly, “Son of the sea, look at me. I am strong and brave. I will challenge the ice and glide in the cold waters below. The scales of my skin will not freeze and I will move forward.” The trout then moved quickly from sight, disappearing into the still night river. Winter laid back onto the snow and he realized that the snow was made of water. He called thanks to the Creator and then fell asleep and cradled a blanket of snow.
The second of the sea’s sons swung from the vines of the deep forests. A chill had set upon the land and he foraged for food on the forest floor. The brother discovered seeds that he ate for sustenance and when he filled of the seeds, he placed them in his pockets for safekeeping. Soon the brother’s pockets began to overflow with seeds and as he swung from the vines the seeds spread across the snowy land.
One afternoon as the second brother moved through the vines of the forest, he heard a great splash below him. He looked down and saw a glimmering trout racing amongst icebergs. He heard the language of the waters spoken to him and he leapt from the vine and his feet sunk deep into the snow below. “Great Trout, do you speak to me?”
The trout happily swooshed his tail and said, “Yes! You are the second son of the sea and brother to Winter. Your name is Spring.”
Spring knelt to the river’s icy edge and touched the trout’s majestic back. He rubbed the trout’s head and the trout gurgled with glee. “Great Trout, have you news of my brothers or father?”
The trout swooshed mightily and told Spring of his meeting with Winter. He relayed Winter’s location and then said he must hurry to the sea as he had now found two of his sons alive and well! The trout sprang forward and dove into the stream. Spring cried out to him as he longed to hear more since it had been months since he’d heard the language of the waters, but the trout was already far away, coursing through the veins of the river.
Spring, excited by the news, took hold of a forest vine and began swinging through trees toward the edge of the forest where the trees meet the fields. He did not know how he would make his way through the frozen grains as the land was so foreign to him. Spring leapt to the forest floor again and searched for seeds for the journey, filling his pockets completely. He approached the edge of the forest and made his way onto the land.
On his journey, many of the seeds fell from Spring’s pockets. He too fell lost along the way as the land was unfamiliar to a son of the sea. Weeks passed and Spring could not find Winter. He grew weary and eventually collapsed onto a heap of snow where fell asleep. When he awoke, Winter was next to him, miraculously peering over his younger brother. Spring leapt to his feet and embraced his older brother. The two would not let go of one another and soon warmth began to spread across the land. Great trails of flowers and fruits began to appear and soon the brothers saw that Spring’s seeds had grown with the warmth and melting waters of the snow. The brothers shrieked and cried in glee and rainstorms swept across the land and the flowers and fruits continued to grow.
The third of the sea’s sons had fallen into a lakebed in the south where the ground was dry and cracked. He scoured for food as there were no fish and there was no foliage. He lived on heat and sunlight. It was very warm and the sea’s third son learned to enjoy the dry heat of the land, to tan his skin and rest on warm ground.
Late one afternoon, the sea’s third son was startled when he heard a great rush of sound barreling toward him. The sound was familiar; it was the rumbling of water. He looked to the distance and saw great bursts of white waves approaching. Inside the waves, he saw a trout and heard him shouting in the language of waters. The sea’s third son called out to the trout, but the water moved so quickly that the trout could not stop. The trout yelled to the son, “Summer! Your brothers Winter and Spring are in the north. These are the waters of melted snow! This dry well will be a lake again. Go North!” Summer called thanks to the trout and with his great strength he dove into the cascading waters. He fought the current and swam toward the north.
Summer swam for weeks and when he could swim no more, he pulled himself upon a sandy shore and cried loudly in exhaustion. A thunderstorm boomed with his cries. The heat of his tanned body radiated electricity and lightning was born.
Winter and Spring, heard the great thunder and saw the streaks of light in the sky. They were puzzled by this great sight, but soon they realized it was a sign of their mighty and strong brother, Summer. They raced across the land and as they approached the banks of the river, they felt warmth.
Summer heard their soft footsteps and looked up to them from the place where he lay tired on the shore. His older brothers helped him to his feet and the three embraced. Again, the land grew warmer with the brothers’ embrace and Summer brought with him all he acquired in the dry lands of the south.
With the new warmth, more fruits appeared on the bushes and the brothers collected strawberries and blackberries to eat. They plucked watermelons and edible roots from the ground. As the days moved forward, their longing for their youngest brother grew deeper. They wondered of the brave trout and their father the sea.
The youngest son of the sea was nestled in a treetop painting with the juices of berries when he heard the language of waters being spoken below him. Calmly, he looked to the great trout and said, “Hello there, wonderful trout! Have you news from the waters or my father the sea?”
The trout, relieved to have finally found the youngest and wisest of the sea’s sons, said, “Dear Autumn, you are alive.”
Autumn replied, “But of course I am alive for this is where the Creator placed me!”
The trout called to him, “Your brothers are together in the north. I must finish my journey to your father and tell him that you and your brothers are well.”
“Does he not know?” asked Autumn.
“He does not know,” answered the trout.
Autumn was saddened, knowing his father must have felt grief and anguish these last nine months of separation. He pulled a branch of painted leaves from the treetops and floated the branch down toward the trout. “Please give my father this gift, dear Trout. Tell him we are well. I have been happy to paint and eat in the trees these months. I will now go and find my brothers.”
The trout bowed to the youngest son and cupped the branch in his powerful jaws. “I will give this to your father and he will know I have not deceived him.” The trout then swam forward.
Autumn waved goodbye to the trout, his hand covered in the juices of red berries and the yellow pollens of giant sunflowers. He shimmied down a massive oak tree and followed the shore of the river, placing his hands in the leaves along the way so as to not lose his tracks. For weeks he painted paths through trees, listening to the forests and fields, waiting to hear the language of waters. In his journey, he found pockets of warm air and trails of daffodils and violas, shadows of where snow had once laid.
He found his brothers on a bright blue day and the sea’s sons embraced one another and laughed and danced. They told of their adventures through the land and how they had missed one another. They worried of their father and the mighty trout who had navigated such distances to help the brothers reunite.
Suddenly, a robin appeared at the brothers’ feet and began to speak in the language of waters. The brothers were shocked and even a little frightened as the little bird spoke to them in a language so foreign to a robin’s tongue. Winter spoke out, “I have only heard of few gulls learning the language of waters! How do you come by such knowledge, little robin?”
The robin chucked and cooed, “Your friend the trout and I have spent many months traveling side by side—he in the water, I in the sky. We have learned to communicate in so many ways.”
The brothers were impressed and anxious to hear of their friend the trout. The robin told the sea’s sons, “Your friend the trout is tired. He has traveled nearly a year after first finding Winter. He is now happy, swimming with his family in the depths of a great lake.”
“Did he find our father?” asked Summer.
“He did,” said the robin.
“How did he find him?” asked Autumn.
“He found him well,” said the robin.
“Surely not!” said Winter.
“How could he have been well if he did not know we were alive?” cried Spring.
“Your father knew you while you were away,” said the robin. “He saw Winter’s snow and watched as Spring lead blooms of flowers across the land. He felt the warmth of Summer’s arrival and watched as the leaves turned colors as Autumn passed through the land. He said it was the first time the land ever spoke to him—and it was through his sons.”
The sons began to cry and laugh at the same time—overjoyed to know their father was watching them from his great perch in the oceans and lakes. They determined that they would bring the snow and flowers, warmth and color every year for their father the sea. They wanted the land to speak to him always and for him to be pleased in their abilities to paint the sky and speak through the land. They were the sea’s sons and they created the seasons.